As we all know, our little country is home to some very talented people. We’ve had a major influence in a number of fields from James Joyce and W.B Yeats in literature to Brian O’Driscoll and Roy Keane in Sport. Us Irish have also impacted the world of science and technology. Basically, we’re all f**king great and bunch of genius’. Ireland also has a large number of actors who have had success on the national and international scene. We’re asking whose the best one?
First up, we’re looking at male actors because i’d be here all day and the article would be about 20 pages long if I did them both together. So as good as Saoirse Ronan and Ruth Negga are, they won’t be in this list.
The Cork native rose to fame with his breakout role as Jim in 28 Days Later. Since then, he’s go on to have roles as the creepy Scarecrow in Christopher Nolans Batman trilogy, another creepy fucker in Red Eye , the Irish freedom fighter Damien Donovan in Ken Loach’s The Wind that Shakes the Barley and more recently played the ‘shivering soldier’ in Dunkirk. And that’s just naming a few. At this stage, I think it’s fair to say that Murphy is acting royalty and a very strong candidate for the Best Irish actor around. He’s also worked alongside some of the most talented directors the world has to offer in the aforementioned Christopher Nolan and Ken Loach as well as Danny Boyle, Wes Craven and Ben Wheatley. Murphy is now set to team up with John Krasinski for a sequel to The Quiet Place.
Ballymena born Liam Neeson is a legendary actor. His role as Oskar Schindler will live long in the memory of cinema lovers. In a distinguished career, Neeson has played Irish freedom fighter Michael Collins, Qui-Gon Jinn in the Star Wars films, Ra’s al Ghul in Batman, he provided the voice of the lovable Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia and even branched out to action films, playing super Dad Brian Mills in the Taken films. These are just a sprinkle of examples taken from a long and hugely succesful career. At 67, Neeson is showing no signs of slowing down either.
Born in Germany to an Irish mother and a German father, Fassbender was brought up in rural Kerry. The Killarney man had early roles in 300 and Angel but truly broke on to our screens in 2008, with his role as the Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands, which was directed by Steve McQueen, before landing roles as a British soldier attempting to infiltrates the Nazi’s in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, Magneto in X-men , a sex addict in Shame, the sadistic Edwin Epps in 12 Years a Slave as well as the starring role in the Steve Jobs biopic. He’s a versatile actor who truly dedicates himself to the role at hand, as we can see with his weight loss for Hunger and is definitely up there when it comes to the best Irish actors.
The Dubliner is probably one of the first names that pops into non-Irish people heads when you say the words ‘Irish actor’. One of Farrell’s first roles was American criminal Jesse James in American Outlaws before going on to star in Phone Booth, the cult film En Bruges, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and The Lobster among many others. The actor has proved himself in a number of different types of roles and within different genres from dark comedy in Horrible Bosses to sci fi and fantasy in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Brendan is a stalwart of Irish cinema and we all have fond memories of watching him in Caca Milis in school and still haven’t forgiven Catherine for what she did. He also stars in Sixth Shooter,The Guard, Gangs of New York and 28 Days Later. Gleeson also plays Mad Eye Moody in the Harry Potter films. Gleesons been acting since 1989 and is always a reliable and welcome presence on our screens, often bringing a bit of comic relief to a role.
Brendans son Domhnall’s career has gone from strength to strength recently. He began his film career with Sixth Shooter alongside his father and has since starred in films such as About Time, alongside Rachel McAdams, 2015’s Ex Machina opposite Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac and Saoirse Ronan’s Brooklyn. The Dublin man also plays the villain General Hux in Star Wars. The only way is up for 36 year old Domhnall so expect the big roles to continue to come.
Aidan Gillen is perhaps most famous for playing Peter ”Littlefinger’ Baelish in Game of Thrones but he’s got a pretty long and distinguished career in film and TV. Some of Gillen’s film credits include the Irish films Sing Street and Calvary as well as roles in The Dark Knight Rises and The Maze Runner while hes one of the most prominent television actors around with the aforementioned role in Game of Thrones as well as major parts in The Wire, Peaky Blinders and Love/Hate. Gillen also appeared in the Freddie Mecury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and is set to star in the thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead alongside Angelina Jolie and Nicholas Hoult.
Last but not least, it’s James Bond himself. The Meath native rose to prominence with his first Bond film Goldeneye in 1995, although saying that, his first acting credit was way back in 1979. Brosnan has played a geologist trying to save a family from a volcanic eruption, Meryl Streep’s love interest in Mamma Mia and was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in The Matador. More recently, he’s had roles in Edgar Wrights The Worlds End as well as The Foreigner opposite Jackie Chan.